Meetings are a typical part of running an efficient team, but they shouldn’t be a disruption to your workflow. You know you run successful meetings if your team leaves knowing the situation and action plan going forward.
It’s a time for teammates to understand the full picture of what they’re working on and ask questions. Each meeting is a perfect opportunity for managers and employees to lay the framework for success.
With careful planning, meetings can actually increase your profits rather than draining the time and resources of your team.
The importance of successful meetings
Meetings provide employees and managers the time and space to strategize and plan their next steps. They are an opportunity to recognize accomplishments and figure out how to navigate difficult situations.
Because these sessions can be so complex and cover a lot of different topics, it’s important that managers create a process to keep things on track. Everything from having an agenda to designating someone to take notes can help the meeting be more productive.
To help your team stay on track, we’re going to outline how managers can facilitate successful meetings and, ultimately, help the team work efficiently.
How to facilitate a meeting
One major mistake is to hold meetings simply because it’s what’s expected.
The smartest meeting facilitators will understand the importance of timing and know how the team is functioning.
This means that if a meeting is scheduled but the issue has cleared up, it may be better to not interrupt the team. Short notice meetings can do more harm than good if they disrupt work that is already in progress.
Running successful meetings is all about having a plan and allowing your team to communicate openly.
Each meeting should have:
- Talking points
- Concise structure
Have an agenda
Whether you’re hosting a team meeting or a one-on-one, make sure you prepare an agenda.
There’s nothing worse than a meeting turning into a lecture with no ultimate goal. Meetings should clarify what the team is working on and resolve any problems that they’re facing.
Make sure you and other managers review the work that everyone is doing. A task management tool lets you monitor project progress and easily see what has been completed.
Take the time to look more closely at individual tasks and team conversations through the tool. This will allow you to better understand what people are accomplishing or struggling with.
Using this information, create an agenda and send it out prior to the meeting. Some managers prefer to review the team’s weekly outlook and send out the meeting agenda a few days prior.
This allows employees to take a look at what they’ll be discussing in the meeting with plenty of time to prepare their own notes.
Example meeting agenda
Last week was our best this quarter, let’s keep up the good work! The creative team has 12 content pieces scheduled this week, so they will be reaching out to the designers to create cover images for each blog. Be sure to ask each other how everything is going and collaborate when possible.
What can we do to keep up the great momentum and can we get to 15 new customers this week?
This week’s client outlook:
- Onboard new Client A
- Meet with the representative for Client B
- Create new quarterly plans for all clients
- Launch new AdWords campaign
- Finish Client C’s website design edits
This week’s internal outlook:
- Continue sales outreach
- Gather new external links
- Finish SEO guide and send to creative team lead for review
- Complete presentation for the upcoming conference
- Finalize content process for freelancers
No matter what format your agenda takes, make sure it follows a similar structure from week to week.
Create a timeline
A study done by the American Psychological Association has found that meetings can actually frustrate employees. If a meeting takes an hour and a half instead of twenty-five minutes, everyone’s day is thrown off.
As a manager, it is your job to be conscious and respectful of everyone’s time. This means you should create a solid timeline and stick to it. If it looks like a meeting is going to run over the scheduled time, allow employees the option to return to their work.
It’s a cue when a discussion takes too long that the subject may require more time. You can schedule another meeting specifically for the team members that need to continue the conversation. This will allow certain people to benefit from additional communication while everyone else can continue their work.
Creating a timeline will allow you to stay on track and ensure that all topics are covered. Make sure that you keep things concise to maintain everyone’s attention and give topics the time they deserve.
Give employees an opportunity to speak
Do you know the difference between a meeting and a lecture?
A meeting is meant to be a collaborative experience where the entire team is encouraged to participate. Sharing wins and losses, brainstorming solutions, and discussing projects should be part of the process.
Successful meetings should not become a lecture, where one person speaks for the majority time with no room for team input.
The distinction is important because facilitating a successful meeting truly relies on giving employees a chance to speak.
So, before moving on to the next talking point, make sure you’ve given your teammates a chance to bring up their own perspectives. When you allow your team to voice their opinions, you may be surprised at the great ideas and insights they reveal.
Avoid technical difficulties
If your meeting will feature technology or a presentation, make sure you are avoiding technical difficulties.
This means that manager should test the tech prior to the meeting. By making sure everything is working properly, you’ll be able to stay on track and maintain the timeline you set up.
Sitting through technical difficulties is a great way to lose momentum and the attention of your team. After struggling with a projector for ten minutes, you may notice that people are speaking up a lot less and yawning a lot more.
Give everyone the chance to stay focused and energized by preparing in advance and testing out any technology that you’ll be using.
Take notes and distribute
To make sure that a meeting is as impactful as possible, you may want to assign someone on your team as the note-taker. This means someone will be listening throughout the entire meeting and writing down details from each talking point. Perhaps more importantly, these notes will document what their teammates are saying and suggesting.
The goal of this exercise is to create a comprehensive review of the session through detailed meeting notes. Employees can then reflect and pick back up on ideas from the discussion.
During meetings, staff often cover multiple topics and involve many people speaking. It can be hard for someone to keep track of a new solution proposed in the midst of so much information. Keeping notes and then distributing to the entire team will allow people to have reference material that they can successfully refer to throughout their day.
Notes also allow managers to look for trends in discussions or problems that come up frequently during meetings. The more documentation you have, the easier you will be able to perform a workflow analysis.
Holding successful meetings improves the efficiency of the entire team over time, so make sure you’re prepared for each session.
Remember strong teams rely on collaboration and communication. This is why meetings should be structured as a discussion versus a lecture to make the most out of your time together.